Cook on a Whim: Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Prepare yourself for the easiest and most delicious butter pecan experience of your life.

Every once in a while, I come up with an idea that results in a recipe that truly blows me away. This brown butter pecan ice cream recipe is one of them. It is one of the best things I’ve ever made or tasted. Brown butter just makes everything better — sweet or savory. And this no-churn ice cream is no exception. It is so easy, and no-churn means everyone can make it.

I’ve had a lifelong love of butter. There is a famous photo of me eating a stick of butter like a banana when I was maybe 3 years old. In fact, when I was little and my dad would feed me bites of butter pecan ice cream, I’d eat around the pecans and tell him how I wished there was “just butter ice cream.” He loved telling me that story.

I still wish that, and this recipe minus the pecans would be just that: the ice cream of my childhood dreams.

Now that I’ve grown older and wiser, I appreciate and love pecans. I do have one condition, though: Do not — I repeat, DO NOT — give me untoasted, raw pecans (or any nuts for that matter) in my cookies, cakes or ice creams.

It is truly one of my pet peeves. By taking a few extra minutes, you take the flavor from bleh to amazing. Just like browning butter gives it more flavor, toasting nuts just opens up a whole new world of flavor and texture, especially when you toast them in brown butter.

Do it. Please!

What do you need to make brown butter pecan ice cream?

  • Heavy cream
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Brown butter
  • Vanilla
  • Toasted, chopped pecans

The cream cheese is my little secret weapon. It balances the cloying sweetness of condensed milk and contributes to the creamiest, scoopable texture. I originally came up with the idea when I created my blueberry swirl no-churn recipe and it is the only way I’ll make no-churn from now on. It makes it more like “real” or “hard” ice cream to me.

Putting the butter in the butter pecan

There are so many butter pecan recipes that use butter flavoring or extract to achieve the butter flavor. That just rubs me the wrong way. So when I was trying to figure out how to get the butter flavor into the ice cream — how to really enhance it — brown butter was the obvious answer. Browning butter amplifies the buttery taste and adds a toasty, caramel flavor and aroma. It is such a special ingredient (I have a hard time not adding it to everything).

Bringing it all together

All you do is whip everything except the pecans in a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, until it’s light and fluffy and you achieve soft peaks. Then mix in the pecans, transfer to a freezer container, cover with plastic and chill until firm. Easy! That’s it!

Keep your eyes peeled for some more fun ice cream recipes. It is ALWAYS ice cream season, but the warmer weather definitely has me craving it and dreaming up flavors even more than usual.

Until then, check out these other great recipes, the first two from yours truly and the second two from some of my favorite blogger friends, Buttermilk and Kickass Baker:

Lemon Curd Ice Cream

No-Churn Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Brown Butter Peanut Butter No-Churn Ice Cream

Vanilla No-Churn Ice Cream

Happy scooping! xo – Anita

Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Cook on a Whim.

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream


8 oz. (one block) room-temperature cream cheese

1/2 cup room-temperature brown butter

14 oz. (one can) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

2 cups heavy cream, very cold

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled


For brown butter:

Place 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Allow butter to melt and foam. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until butter turns a dark amber color. You will have to push the foam aside in order to see the color of the butter underneath.

Once browned, remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof measuring cup. You might need to add a couple tablespoons of soft butter to make up for evaporation during the browning process and ensure you have 1/2 cup. Allow to cool to room temperature. 

For toasted pecans:

Place one tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat (I just steal a little of the browned butter for this). Once melted, add 1 cup chopped pecans and toast, stirring almost constantly, for about 5 minutes until they smell very toasty and nutty. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

For ice cream:

Place softened cream cheese, browned butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a stand mixer. Mix on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy and no cream cheese chunks remain. You’ll want to stop and scrape the sides and bottom a couple times to make sure it is all mixed.

Once mixture is fluffy and totally combined, scrape sides and bottom of bowl once more and add cream. Continue whipping until mixture is very light and fluffy, much like whipped cream. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t be afraid to really let the mixer rip here — you want to incorporate plenty of air.

Once mixture is very light and very fluffy, remove whisk attachment and gently fold in cooled pecans. Transfer mixture to a freezer-safe container, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in freezer.

Chill until firm and enjoy!


I freeze this in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Just make sure whatever you choose has about a 2-quart capacity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *